Nestled in the laps of Kumaon Hills in the Almora district of Uttarakhand, Ranikhet is an evergreen hill station that is a massive tourist attraction in the state. Colonial charm, seasonal beauty, relishing weather, and untouched serenity of this place makes it a perfect destination for nature lovers to spend some quality time in the bounties of Mother Nature. During the British rule, it was the summer capital for British before Shimla.
The word ‘Ranikhet’ literally translates to Queen’s Farm in Hindi and comprises of undulating Himalayan hills, lush forests, trekking ranges, mountainous climbs, golf courses, orchards, and temples.
According to local legend, this is the place where the then princess, Rani Padmini fell in love with Raja Sudhardev and later selected this picturesque valley as her new home. Apart from being a wonderful holiday destination, Ranikhet is also known to try on your adventure shoes – go for some trekking, mountain climbing, camping or rappelling.
It is basically a cantonment town that houses the Kumaon Regiment and the Naga Regiment, which is maintained by the Indian Army. Being a vivid hill station, you get to experience a cool chilling climate mainly due to the town’s high altitude and location near the Himalayan foothills. This is what makes it pleasant and calm during summers but experiences heavy snowfall in winter.
It traffics a large population of tourists with its cool climate and simple natural beauty that can truly freshen up your senses to the very core. Amid the peace and serenity of the Himalayas, at the height of 1,870 meters, lies the gorgeous little town of Ranikhet. What will drive you towards this place is the natural beauty and serenity that the place is gifted with.
A sprawling orchard of fresh and exquisite apples, plums, peaches, and apricots is the Chaubatia Garden. Located in the heart of the city, these gardens tend to be an ideal spot for outings and picnics. Also, this garden is best known for practicing the depleting step farming in the Himalayan regions. With a widespread of about 650 acres, it has a rich avenue spanning tall trees of oak, cedar, pine, eucalyptus, and rhododendrons. They have a dotting effect on the walking trails, giving you ample opportunities to sneak a glimpse of nature’s craftsmanship and spellbound beauty.
Once you are here, stop by for more sightseeing options in the nearby areas such as the Views of the Garhwal Himalayan Peaks of Nanda Devi, Trishul, and Nilkanth. If you have a soft corner for adventure, try trekking at the Bhalu Dam. Exploring these dense verdant forests will captivate you with their magical allure, providing you memories for a lifetime to cherish.
It boasts of a rich diversity of flora as it contains more than 200 varieties of fruits and flowers. One can find a huge collection of seasonal fruits in the valleys as well. Home to the Government Fruit Research Centre, it is one of the must-visit places to see in Ranikhet.
Known for its immersive and scenic natural beauty, Majkhali accounts to be one of the most peaceful villages in the state of Uttarakhand. Situated on the Almora Road, approximately 10 kilometres far from the central city, it is a quaint and picturesque hamlet.
Majkhali is hugely well famed amongst the tourists for being the spot wherein you can view the Himalayan peaks, particularly Trishul. This place is a natural habitat for rich varieties of flora and fauna and also popular for a vintage Kali temple. Swing by to steal some of its enchanting vistas of Nanda Devi as it can be best seen from here. If you truly are a nature lover and if sublime panoramas give you a feeling of inner peace and satisfaction, then Majkhali is really an ideal place for you.
Built roughly eight centuries ago, Jhula Devi Temple is located just a few kilometres away from Ranikhet. The present temple complex, however, was reconstructed in the year 1935 and is dedicated to a form of the Goddess Durga. It is said that the main deity rests on a wooden ‘jhula’, which translates to swing, hence the name Jhula Devi Temple has been given.
Set amid the tranquil and serene atmosphere of the Kumaon Hills, this has paved way for the livestock to roam freely in the area despite the area being home to a good population of tigers and leopards. Nonetheless, they would not attack due to the Goddess’ influence. According to local folk legends, the main idol of Goddess Durga was discovered by a shepherd on the guidance of Goddess Durga herself in his dreams, ever since then the temple is found at the very same spot where the idol was found. As per local beliefs, Jhula Devi safeguards and protects the villagers and their livestock from wild animals in the adjacent forests. It is also believed that whosoever ties a bell on the temple wall, is granted with his/her wish; therefore many tourists come to the temple to seek blessings of the Goddess and to get their wishes fulfilled.
While you are here, also see the famous Ram Mandir, which will be en route to the Chaubatia Orchard. One can also find a few monasteries dedicated to preaching holy texts and Vedas. If you wish to get connected with your spiritual self, this is your go-to.
Situated nearly 6 kilometres away from Ranikhet is the little town of Upat. Nestled in the lap of Garhwal Himalayas, this town is known for its 9-hole Golf Course maintained by the Indian Army. This Golf Course holds the honorary mention of being one of the highest in Asia. It has a high altitude of approximately 1830 metres above the sea level and endows you with breathtaking views of the massive Himalayan ranges.
Another major tourist attraction near Upat Golf Course is the ‘Kalika Temple’, which is dedicated to Goddess Kali. Located at a distance of 1 kilometres from Upat, in the town of Kalika, this temple is accounted to be one of the major tourist attraction in Ranikhet.
Surprisingly, Bhalu Dam is a man-made lake and an interesting place to see in Ranikhet. Located at a distance of roughly 3 kilometres from Chaubatia Gardens, it was built as a source of drinking water for the British soldiers nearly 2 centuries ago. Encircled by lush green forests, valleys, and snow-capped Himalayan ranges, the tranquil settings of the lake make it a mesmerizing sight to behold.
With overlooking Himalayan peaks, chirping birds and fresh mountain air; it has all the requisite facets that make it a perfect spot for picnickers, nature lovers and bird watchers. However, the water in this lake is critically low or negligible except during monsoon season, and it is known to sometimes freeze in the winter nights.
This one is for the adventure buffs in the house, it is deemed perfect for one of the best camping and trekking in India. Tucked far away from the hustle and bustle of the city life, this serene and beautiful place is a hot spot for those seeking peace and solitude.
A wonderful retreat in the Kumaon Mountains is Dwarahat, an ancient town full of endearing temples and enchanting sceneries. Situated in the wondrous Almora district of Uttarakhand, it houses some 55 odd ancient temples built in the medieval ages by the Katyuri Kings. Of them, Ratan Deo, Gujar Deo, Kacheri, Maniyan, and Mrityunjaya group of temples are known for their exceptional architecture and significance. These temples follow the ideologies of both Hinduism and Jainism and are a place of special inheritance and of religious importance. Besides being historically significant, it is representative of the regions great past and its architectural prowess.
Dwarahat literally translates to ‘Gateway to Heaven’. Perched at a high altitude of nearly 2000 metres, it provides amazing views of the mighty Himalayan peaks such Kailash Mansoravar, Dunagiri, and others.
It is regarded as one of the most powerful Shakti Peethas, as this temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga and is located on a small hillock amidst the Kumaon Hills. Visitors need to climb a stairway having 500 steps to reach the temple. From the temple, you get to see an aerial view of the city and the surrounding valley.
You can also drop by and visit the ‘Pandavkholi’, which is one of the secret places where Pandavas of Mahabharata spent some time during their exile. Located amidst the Dronagiri Hill ranges, Pandavkholi Caves offer scintillating views of the surrounding Himalayan peaks. To reach Pandavkholi, one needs to do a small trek from Kukuchina that can be reached through a taxi from Dunagiri.
Yet another tempting attraction in Dwarahat is the ancient ‘Vimandeshwar Temple’, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Vimandeshwar Temple is the second home to Lord Shiva after the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi, as mentioned in the Puranic legends. Many pilgrims who are not capable enough of travelling to Kashi for the divine darshans of Lord Shiva, come to the Vimandeshwar Temple to seek blessings of the Lord.
Apart from the aforementioned prominent places, Nanda Devi Mela held in Ranikhet during the month of September is a special get together which is a must visit for everyone who wants to be a part of the religious festivity.
The Kumaon Regimental Centre is a famous museum that was built at the end of the 19-century. Established by Kumaon Regiment of Indian Army, it showcases the rich heredity of the Kumaon Region. This museum is home to various war artefacts of historical importance that exhibit the glory and achievements of the Garhwal and Kumaon regiments. The museum displays several other photographs of wars, weapons used by the armed forces, medals and uniforms as well as flags, stone tablets and other objects of interest.
Apart from the above, it also houses valuable items such as silver sceptre of Rani Jhansi and documents and pictures associated with Kargil War, a wireless field telephone used in World War II by Japanese and Chinese rifles captured in the 1962 war. The museum receives heavy traffic generally in the evening time. It is a special treat for the ones who have a special corner for history and associated relics.
Initially built by the Cantonment Board for the sole purpose of rainwater harvesting, Rani Jheel is a vast artificial lake that is located amidst natural ridges and woods. The pristine lake can be found at an altitude of almost 7,500-feet above sea level, and is a prime tourist attraction in Ranikhet that attracts tourists for boating, and is well known for the silence and tranquillity that it exuberates. Once you are here, you can also plan for a picnic amongst your friends or family members. It has all the needed facilities to ignite a quick picnic destination in one go.
Being a bewitching hill station, this is where you can feel nature in its best form. So what are you waiting? Book your tickets right away and let Ranikhet welcome you with all the love and luck. This coming holiday season, explore this city without much ado.
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